An action quietly started by Najib’s legal team in the United States last November has come to light, showing that he plans to go on the offensive against the key witnesses testifying for the prosecution in his trial over 1MDB and to blame them for misleading him, their boss, over the theft of billions that ended up in his own accounts.
The case being brought in the Southern District of New York is a so-called Discovery Application using civil law procedures that would enable him to force both the bank Goldman Sachs and their former Southeast Asia boss Tim Leissner to produce documents and be questioned relating their own settlements with the Department of Justice over 1MDB. Both pleaded guilty and acknowledged guilt: Leissner is due to be sentenced this month and the bank has accepted a Deferred Prosecution agreement involving record fines.
As the result of the settlements Najib’s lawyers (the US law firm Wiggan & Dana and Tania Scivetti, the bottle blond wife of Najib’s KL legal factotum Shafee Abdullah) are complaining that evidence relevant to his own trial back in KL was not released in open court. They want to lay hands on information provided by Goldman Sachs and Tim Leissner to the authorities that might tarnish some of the key witnesses against Najib, including senior executives who worked under him at 1MDB.
The individuals targeted, according to this revealing application document, are two former CEO’s of 1MDB, namely Shahrol Halmi and Hazem Bin Abdul Rahman, as well as Azmi bin Tahir who acted as Chief Financial Officer between June 2012 and December 2017 when the Goldman Sachs phase of the scheme was put into play.
In each case the stated objective laid out in the application is to tear apart the characters of these witnesses for the prosecution, in order to lay the blame on Najib’s underlings for the 1MDB thefts, even though the lion’s share of the loot ended up in his own accounts or benefitting his family. For example the petition states:
“Shahrol has testified that he approved transactions that later turned out to be part of the fraudulent scheme without disclosing full details of the transactions to the 1MDB Board of Directors.
Petitioner plans to impeach Shahrol’s credibility and testimony by showing that he in fact engaged in such flagrantly improper conduct (executing these transactions without Board approval) not because he thought Petitioner was instructing him to do so, but rather because Shahrol was receiving kickbacks and bribes. Petitioner believes that the discovery sought from Mr. Leissner and Goldman Sachs will assist him in impeaching Shahrol in this manner.
Petitioner expects that Mr. Leissner would testify, or provide documents showing, that Shahrol received kickbacks and bribes, contrary to his testimony in Malaysia to date. Petitioner similarly expects that Goldman Sachs is likely to possess documents showing that various 1MDB officials, including Shahrol, received kickbacks and bribes, contrary to his testimony in Malaysia to date.” [Case 1:20-cv-09638-CM Document 1 Filed 11/17/20 – Southern District of New York]
The above request that the court should demand records from both Leissner and Goldman showing Shahrol received “bribes and kickbacks” is repeated for the other two senior figures and the document indicates that Najib expects other 1MDB officers to also be exposed for having received ‘sweeteners’ for their part in the heist.
In fact, he seems convinced of it. He appears to be adamant on the matter, as if he had some good reason to know.
Should such evidence be acquired then the document lays out how Najib plans to paint himself as the innocent boss cunningly tricked by a whole network of underlings who worked to steal billions from under his nose at 1MDB and then to filter them back into his bank accounts disguised as a gift from the Saudi Arabian King.
They apparently did this outrageous deed in order to get their own more meagre rewards, according to the narrative laid out in the pleading. It is already known that several of the facilitators at 1MDB did indeed get juicy multi-million dollar cuts of the loot, including Casey Tang and Jasmin Loo who are still in hiding with Najib’s proxy at 1MDB, Jho Low, who certainly himself pocketed hundreds of millions as the prime orchestrator of the fraud.
Tim Leissner has also admitted to skimming off a hundred million dollars, thanks to his own pivotal role in raising the bond issue through Goldman Sachs as did key executives at the Aabar/IPIC sovereign wealth fund in Abu Dhabi (including the boss Prince Mansour who took $160 million to part fund the purchase of his super yacht).
Najib himself claims that he was an innocent duped by all these underlings and side-kicks, in a scenario where no one in the know thought to spill the beans and warn their boss about what was going on.
According to the same pleading:
Mr. Leissner and his co-conspirators took many steps to shroud the money trail. This effort spanned continents and multiple jurisdictions, included the deployment of an array of shell companies, and involved numerous individuals. Accordingly, Petitioner was misled about the origins of the monies that went to his account. Instead, he believed that the monies received by him were political donations by the late King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia…..
The anticipated identification of those shell companies, co-conspirators, and individual officials through depositions of Mr. Leissner and a corporate representative of Goldman Sachs, along with the production of documents, will allow Petitioner to conduct additional targeted discovery concerning the participants in the conspiracy and “follow” the money. The end of that process will demonstrate Petitioner’s innocence, namely that he did not knowingly accept any kickbacks, bribes, or improper payments.”
In fact, thanks to the detailed money trails provided by the Department of Justice there can be little left to discover as to how exactly the money was filched from 1MDB, passed into bogus off-shore subsidiaries of the fund and then passed through a Jho Low company into Najib’s account.
Najib’s big hope appears to be that Leissner’s evidence will help him prove that the banker never directly came to him to get his personal permission to raid billions from the fund, despite Najib being the sole signatory for all the financial decisions that were made.
This, claims Najib, will demonstrate the whole scheme was conducted behind his back by the same devious team led by Jho Low, who also gulled him that the King of Saudi Arabia had ‘donated’ him a billion dollars towards his election expenses; and likewise that Prince Mansour of Abu Dhabi was happy to fund Riza’s movies to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars also; and further that diamonds were offered to his wife Rosmah to the tune of half a billion dollars by other kind foreign princes. Others mind find this unconvincing, as did the judge who convicted Najib on all seven charges over SRC.
Indeed, in the same paragraph the ex-PM complains it was unacceptable Leissner proceeded with the 1MDB scheme on the word of Jho Low without his direct personal approval, whilst at the same time presenting it as normal that he himself accepted the ‘billion dollar donation from the King of Saudi Arabia’ on the very same word of Jho Low, without either checking with the King or indeed bothering to send him any word of thanks (which would of course have alerted the King as well as Najib to the unfortunate misconception).
“He [the Petitioner] has asserted that he was unaware of any bribes or kickbacks. In relation to the funds that turned out to be suspect which were received by the Petitioner, it is Petitioner’s position that he was misled about their origins, and he believed that the monies received by him were donations by the late King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia….
Petitioner asserts upon information and belief that the testimony and documents of Mr. Leissner and Goldman Sachs will also demonstrate that Petitioner did not instruct, encourage, authorize, or endorse the payment of any bribes or kickbacks to himself or others. They will further show that Mr. Leissner, Goldman Sachs, and others never verified with Petitioner that Mr. Low was acting on Petitioner’s behalf, even though it was manifestly obvious that Mr. Low’s purportedinstructions were illegal.”
So, instead of a top down conspiracy authorised by the man in charge, whereby all the underlings did as told and were kept happy with their share of the loot, Najib has come up with a bottom up conspiracy, whereby a wide network of underlings united to dupe his intelligent good self (by far the most powerful and most dangerous man in Malaysia for anyone to cross) in order to steal cash from under his nose and then blame him for it!
“Petitioner believes that Azmi [also Shahrol, Hazem and others] is a participant in the conspiracy and a recipient of bribes and kickbacks and that he will try to deflect blame to Petitioner.”
Najib’s application also trumpets the fact that under his own government the AG Apandi Ali found him innocent and claims that the later guilty verdict that followed his prosecution by a new opposing government.
The imputation is quite clear, which is that his conviction was a politically motivated judgement which he is presently appealing. This is quite some admission from a former prime minister who jailed his own opponent via an appeal of an acquittal AFTER that opponent had been found not guilty by the High Court owing to lack of evidence.
That unprecedented prosecution was of course masterminded by the same Shafee Abdullah who is behind this US application and who is also due to face trial himself for the RM9.5 million he personally received from the stolen 1MDB money, thanks to a payment from Najib which he did not refer to the tax authorities (having claimed he prosecuted the Anwar persecution for free as a gift to the nation).
Whether the US courts will be impressed with Najib’s self-serving arguments, (churned out daily to his followers on Facebook) and deliver in his favour and whether the Malaysian court will be impressed by attempts to discredit witnesses who may or may not have been rewarded in his service in the manner he suspects, will be seen.
Sarawak Report has been informed that as of last Friday the application by Najib passed its first hurdle in the US court in that the requested subpoena was endorsed and the two parties, Goldman Sachs and Tim Leissner now have two weeks in which to contest handing over the required information.
Kevin Carroll, the partner at Wiggin and Dana lawyers in New York acting for Najib, has said, according to a third party who spoke to Sarawak Report:
“Goldman and Leissner could hand over the relevant documents requested by the former prime minister of Malaysia. Leissner could sit for a deposition and Goldman could provide an official to sit for a deposition. This is what ordinarily happens in a civil litigation. [Alternatively] Leissner or Goldman or the government [that is the Department of Justice] may oppose the subpoenas or just wait and see. Goldman might say that they’ve given the material requested by Najib in the Deferred Prosecution Agreement, so we’ll give it to you as well.”
Malaysians at least now know exactly what Najib plans to do with the information if he gets it, which is to go after and discredit all those who worked for him on the 1MDB heist and who have now agreed to testify to the court.
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